Jacob  - Bible study activities

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Jacob, Rachel and Leah, Sistine Chapel

Jacob's story

Scroll of the Torah

The Bible text

Bride being prepared for her wedding

Jacob's one true love

Many wives, many children in a large Middle Eastern family

Marriage & polygamy

Pregnant woman


Nomad's tents





Bible text for the story of Jacob 




Activities for individuals or groups


'Chinatown' is built on a secret rather than an outright lie. What is the difference between a secret and a lie? 

Films: destruction caused by lies

Stage 1:  Make up a list

List some films about the destruction caused by lies. You can choose recent films or classics. If this is a group activity, choose films most people know. 

Stage 2:  Glance over your list

'The Scarlet Pimpernel'

'The Scarlet Pimpernel
Is it ever alright to lie to someone for their own good?

1.  Have you chosen films that are realistic, or do you prefer films that are inspiring/uplifting?
2.  Do your favorites have both these qualities?
3.  What does this say about you and what you need in a story?

Stage 3:  Choose your favorite 
4.  What are the central theme in this film? 
5.  Do any of the scenes remind you of your own life or experiences?
6.  Are there lessons you could learn from the theme of the film? Could you apply ideas from this film to your own life and relationships?

'Same Time Next Year'
Is it alright to lie to a close relative if they never find out?

Stage 4:  Think about your choices

Group activity: discuss these questions, making sure everyone in the group has a chance to talk about their ideas.

Single activity: sit down for a few minutes and focus your mind; work through the Stage 3 questions; think about them as you do other tasks in your day.

Movies about destructive lies


Can you name the films?

Can you see a connection with Jacob's story?

The Fugitive'Monte Cristo'
'Atonement''Shawshank Redemption''Rashomon'

Answers HERE (see 'Jacob')  Can you think of others?


Paintings of Jacob, Rachel and Isaac

Isaac Blessing Jacob, Govert Flinck

Rebecca: paintings has 30 famous paintings of the story of Jacob, Isaac, Rebecca and Rachel

Stage 1

Read the story at Bible people: Jacob

Stage 2

Go to Rebecca: paintings. Scroll through the paintings from first to last.

Which part of the story has been the most popular with artists? Would this have been your choice?

Artists paint what they want to paint, but they also paint with their audience in mind. Look at the paintings again. Who is the painting directed at? Explain your reasoning.

Stage 3

Is there a scene that has been ignored by artists, but which you would like to see? Why does this other incident appeals to you more than the scene favored by the artists? Spend some time quietly thinking about your response.

Telling lies
The trouble is, once you start telling lies, it's hard to stop. Jacob's life begins with lies, and continues with lies. Even so, God loves him - loves him enough to let him suffer the punishment that comes with lying: his children tell him a terrible lie about the supposed death of his beloved son Joseph, and Jacob suffers greatly.
Tell the truth now: have you ever been guilty of lying? To others? To yourself? How easy (or difficult) is it for you to tell the truth? What times was it most difficult for you to face the truth? Spend a little quiet time thinking about your life. It can't hurt.

'Jacob's Ladder', Bonchurch, Isle of Wight; old postcardThe importance of dreams

The story of Jacob places great importance on the dream he has about a ladder leading up to and down from heaven. 

Have you had dreams that have been particularly significant, or that have affected you deeply? 

Significant dreams often happen when we are stressed about something. Has this happened to you? 

If so, write a description of the dream, then share this with a learning partner. Can you see any significance or symbolic meaning in what happened in the dream? 

In depth study of one person's story
Choose one of the people whose stories are told on this site and answer the following questions:

1. What are the main events of the person's life? Tell the story.

2. What were their main qualities? What made them stand out from the crowd?

3. What obstacles did they face? Did they overcome them, or go with the flow? Explain.

4. How did they use their abilities to do Godís work?  

5. Which part of their story appeals to you most? Why?

You must include three short quotations from the Bible texts to illustrate the points you are making. 

Famous quotes

'Jacob was a quiet man'. Genesis 25:27
'I am weary of my life.....' 27:46
'And he dreamed there was a ladder, the top of it reaching to heaven....' 28: 12
'I have seen God face to face, and yet I live.' 32:30

Each of these quotes tell us something important about Jacob and his family.

Take each quote and read it in context - you can find the Bible passages for each one at Bible texts for Jacob. The quotes are highlighted.

What does each quote one tell you about the man himself - even if the words were said by someone else?

If someone were telling your story, what sentences might they use to sum up your life?

Nomadic tents similar to the ones Jacob and his family usedFocus questions

  • 1. Choose one of the stories from the Jacob saga. What are the most interesting moments in the story?

  • 2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? Who acts? Who gets what they want? If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends with? Which person would you want to avoid?

  • 3. What is God's interaction with the main characters? What does this tell you about the narrator's image of God? Do you agree with this image?

  • 4. What is happening on either side of the story, in the chapters before and after it? Does this help you understand what is happening?

  • 5. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know?

  • 6. Are the characteristics and actions of the people in the story still present in the world? How is the story relevant to modern life, especially your own? 


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Bible Stories: People of the Old Testament - Bible Study Resource:  Jacob, Leah and Rachel